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Warren County refutes U.S. 340/522 corridor report

By Alex Bridges -- abridges@nvdaily.com

FRONT ROYAL -- Warren County officials claim a report done on the U.S. 340/522 corridor and annexation contains errors used by Front Royal Town Council candidates during their campaigns this spring.

Town Council at their meeting Tuesday heard from Douglas Stanley, county administrator for Warren County, who spoke on behalf of his Board of Supervisors. Stanley provided a formal response to the study performed by former Front Royal Town Manager and Councilman Walter Duncan. While not criticizing Duncan who Stanley said had the "town's interests at heart," the administrator noted that the report contained numerous errors and omitted important information.

"By portraying a 'them versus us' relationship for the Town and County, Mr. Duncan also ignores the benefits to the Town of County residents working, shopping, buying meals, going to the movies, and participating in other activities in the Town that add to the Town's tax revenues," Stanley told council in his report. "The fact is that the Town and County rely on each other for prosperity."

Contrary to the report, Front Royal benefits greatly from the commercial development of the U.S. 340/522 corridor, according to Stanley.

Rather than refute Stanley's statements or question his own report, several members of council criticized the Warren County official for bringing up the matter in an open meeting.

"I think it's unfair for you to stand up here in a public forum and cut apart the report Mr. Duncan did in a private forum so I got an issue with that," said Councilman Thomas E. Conkey, who accused Stanley of taking a "them-versus-us" angle on the matter.

Conkey expressed hope that council in the future could work together on the issue of a boundary adjustment and find a solution beneficial to both localities. But the councilman added that it seemed unfair for the county to criticize the report without Duncan present to defend his conclusions.

Councilman Carson C. Lauder Jr. disagreed with Conkey. He also didn't see Stanley's statements as a direct attack on Duncan.

"[The] county should be here telling us how you see it ... letting us look at your facts and your figures to see where you are, where we are," Lauder said. "This is the only way things get done and it's done through a public forum tell us what you're doing and how you see things."

As Stanley explained, both town and county users of the water and sewer system paid for the extension of the lines into the corridor -- not just town residents as Duncan's report asserts. The water and sewer lines serve as an asset to the town, according to Stanley.

The administrator stated the county's 4 percent meals tax generated $690,000 in revenue in 2010-2011, contrary to the $1.2 million cited in Duncan's report.

The benefits to the town included increases in tax revenue on sales and meals as well as business licensing between 1990 and 2005, according to Stanley.

As the administrator explained approximately 15-20 percent of the use and revenue for the water and sewer enterprise fund comes from customers outside town limits in not only the corridor but other neighborhoods in the county. The town has received millions of dollars in revenue from the extensions of the water and sewer system into the corridor, according to Stanley.

"No where in Mr. Duncan's documents is this acknowledged and it represents an egregious omission of the contribution of these customers," Stanley states.

The administrator also refuted the assertion in Duncan's report that the county not lose revenue from annexation of part or all of the corridor. Stanley explained the county would lose the taxes it collects currently from the properties along the corridor if the town annexed the area.

Warren County residents living outside town limits subsidize those people in Front Royal by $2.77 million per year based on the fiscal 2006-2007, Stanley stated, noting that Duncan's report fails to mention this.


One month ago Walter Duncan, armed with properly vetted facts and figures, proposed to the Town Council they consider annexing the corridor. Alarmed Warren County Good Old Boys convened who knows how many smoke filled back-room meetings in the 4 weeks since Duncan's presentation?

Whatever happened to the Town/County liaison meetings created especially to exchange ideas and discuss controversies? Douglas Stanley doesn't do anything involving Front Royal unless he raises his hand to ask the Board of Supervisors for permission. Which Supervisor(s) authorized Stanley to make a public presentation before the Town Council? Well, the gloves are off now; here come the brass knuckles again.

What we can say is Douglas Stanley has emerged from the smoky back room pow-wows, peashooters blazing against the Duncan big guns. Once again we can fault Stanley acting in his multiple roles as Tony Carter's favorite sock puppet and the Athey law firm's backhand man, (Funk is the new, but unproven, right-hand man). Non-attorney Stanley does a wonderful, lawyerly job of putting lipstick on his pigs then taking a barristers hatchet to Walter Duncan. Bold-faced Stanley implies Duncan meekly failed to portray Warren County as the Good Guys on white horses, contradicting what everybody knows; the Good Old Boy attorneys serve Warren County interests with larceny in their hearts and big buck clients in their portfolios. How many elected officials will be serving which attorney's best interests in this contentiously fabricated controversy?

Stanley came up short with his attempts to pencil whip the Duncan figures then he misdirects your attention to those shiny trinkets, beads, and shimmering rainbow illusions being waved before our lying eyes. Stanley makes his specious claims attempting to float his boat while the rat's bail furiously trying to keep the sinking boat afloat.

Corridor annexation is the cure for what ails Front Royal. Let the sky become dark with circling attorneys.

I see the Good Old Boy's Posse in Town are at it again. Instead of taking a slice of Warren County's pie, now they are dreaming of taking the whole pie for themselves. Now that the County completed their work to fix all the issues, and facilitate the business growth we now see in the 522/340 corridor, they want to step in like a spoiled child and say Mine! Mine! Mine!

The only connection the town has to that business district, is the water and sewage lines, and from that the town receives compensation.

It seems, there is a story several times a year in the paper regarding Town/County Politics, that reflects the Town's fantasy of using their water monopoly as some form of battering ram to get what they want.

What ails Front Royal, is poor management, and townies who don't give a damn about living in filth and dilapidation. Front Royal is due for a make over. There are run down buildings all over town, trash and junk, and broken vehicles that are visible in residents yards.

Even the two shopping centers on South Street look dated and dirty, and have space the've been unable to lease. Instead of trying to take from the county, the town needs to look at themselves, and determine what needs to be done in town to attract new business. Cleaning up Front Royal would be a good start.

IMO I think it would be great if the County built their own water and waste plant. That would end the town's little monopoly, and a lot of the nonsense and games.

Let's play this out. The County gets $5.6 mil in new tax revenues moving forward. The Town cuts the water/ sewer rates by half for the next 5 years to support the Dominion project. Because of the size and the demand, the Town has to build a water looping system that is projected to cost $8mil at the proper location. The Town negotiates with Dominion for only $2.5 mil to help offset the construction cost. The Town citizens will have to pay for the additional cost while subsidizing the water rates.
The Town Council requested financial help from the County and the County was less than helpful and then goes to Dominion and cuts a deal of giving Dominion $1mil a year for the next 5 years. Dominion can use these funds as they please instead of helping the Town defer the cost of the construction. So there was no help from the County in making up the lost meals tax revenue and no help with the construction of the looping system.
The Town Council negotiated badly with both the County and Dominion which will result in the citizens of The Town again footing this construction cost of the looping system.
Now the Supervisors send in Mr. Stanley to challenge the work of a respected citizen outlining the issues regarding the water issues over the years at the last Council meeting.
Why would the Countydo this?
The County Supervisors does not want the Town to boundary adjustment or annex the 522 corridor . The State of Virginia supports this to happen and is a tool to help Town's grow and prosper without hurting the County.
Mr. Stanley was attempting to sway public opinion on not supporting this option. Mr. Stanley and Mr. Duncan have different views on this issue . The Council has referred Mr. Duncan's study to the consulting company that is reviewing the Town's utilities rates currently. Would it not be prudent and in the the spirit of Town and County cooperation to refer Mr. Stanley's issues on to the rate consultants to confirm the facts.
Is it not the time to do what is good for all the citizens than what is good for a few egos in their self centered silos.

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